The Los Angeles Lakers are currently focused on winning the NBA title, but that doesn’t mean the higher-ups aren’t thinking about Anthony Davis’ contract situation. While LeBron James is the team’s best player, Davis is the key to the team maintaining relevance past the next couple of seasons. Fortunately, there hasn’t been any indication that he won’t want to stick around for at least a little while longer.
However, former NBA executive John Hollinger told The Athletic that he doesn’t believe Davis will commit long-term:
Based on talking to people in the league and my own common sense, it seems likely we’re headed for a salary cap next season around $109 million — in other words, right around the level of this year’s cap. As far as the out years, we just don’t know yet. Current expectations seem to be that the 2021-22 cap number might not be much higher, but 2022-23 could trend upward.
What that means for Davis is that he might be more willing to consider a shorter deal, given that next year’s max contract would be based off a lower cap number than originally expected. His max deal for next season would be $32.7 million, which is still a raise, but over the life of a five-year deal with the Lakers he’d be looking at losing more than $10 million relative to the previous estimate.
Davis does have a pretty significant injury history so it’d be a risk to rely on short-term contracts. He’d clearly be betting on himself if he decides not to sign a long deal.
Davis Could Wait Until 2021 to Sign Long-Term
At the end of the day, Davis could make a lot more money if he remains patient. According to Hollinger, if he becomes a free agent in 2022, he could make some serious money with the Lakers:
Davis also would be eligible for a big pay bump in the summer of 2022, when he would have completed his 10th season and could make a salary equivalent to 35 percent of a team’s cap.
It’s difficult to know right now if LeBron James will still be with the Lakers in 2022. If he’s not, the team will have a lot more money to spend. That said, Davis may not want to stick around with a team that doesn’t have a second star. Keeping the big man happy will be very important over the next few years.
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Davis to Get Biggest Contract in NBA History?
If everything goes according to plan, Davis will be among the biggest earners in NBA history, says Hollinger:
Given the fact that the cap itself is also likely to be higher in the summer of 2022, that presents a pretty strong case for Davis to sign a “2+1” this summer: a three-year max deal with a player option after the second year. Under my cap scenario, that’s a value of $106.6 million over three seasons. As long as he remains an elite player, Davis would then position himself to clean up with the biggest contract in NBA history in 2022, a five-year deal in the $250 million range.
A quarter of a billion dollars would be a nice chunk of change for Davis. When 2022 free agency rolls around, he’ll be barely 30 and should have at least a few more years of elite play left.